Work Experience at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL)

Each year at STFC, we are proud to run a highly successful work experience scheme for Year 10, 11. 12 and 13 students at schools based in the UK. For the summer 2024 programme, the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) work experience team will be delivering on-site work experience provision for young people.

Please ensure you know how you will travel to the lab each day, before applying for a placement, or if you will need to stay nearby.

If you have any queries about work experience, please do not hesitate to email us, or attend our introductory webinar.

How to apply

Applications will open on 1 January 2024 and close on 25 February 2024. We cannot accept any late applications.
All applicants will hear from us by 12 April 2024, letting them know if they have been offered a placement. 

Please note: the RAL Work Experience Programme is for students in Y10 -Y13 in education at schools based in the UK

Sample application questions will be available in December 2023.

More information about the STFC Work Experience programmes can be found here.

‘How to apply’ video

Introduction to work experience at Rutherford Appleton Laboratoryvideo

This short video will give students, their teachers and careers advisers, and their parents a short introduction to the programme, including the benefits, opportunities and how to apply. Placements can be offered between 17 – 21 June and 8 – 26 July 2024. 

This video is a chance for you to find out more about how to write a good application and the different placements available.  The video will be available at the end of December 2023.

Placement details 

Placements will last one to two weeks and can be offered 17 – 21 June and 8 – 26 July 2024. Please note: We are unable to offer placements between 24 June – 5 July 2024 due to Harwell Open Week.

Students will work individually or in a small group with one or two supervisors on a project relevant to their interests and STFC, which will meet the relevant Gatsby benchmarks. 

For 2024, students will apply for individual projects which will be detailed below, once applications open.
You can see a selection of project offered in 2023 as examples below

Example projects from 2021/2022 can also be found here.

More information about STFC sites and departments can be found here.

How to get to Rutherford Appleton Laboratory 

Science and Technology Facilities Council 
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory 
Harwell Campus 
OX11 0QX 
Email: [email protected]

Google Maps view of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

We cannot provide accommodation for successful students, but you can use the following links to find local accommodation.

Our closest hotel is Ridgeway House (on-site). You can view nearby accommodation here.

Example groups offering placements in 2023

Please note: this is a short selection of groups that offered placements in 2023 to give you an idea of the types of placements available.

Business Innovations Directorate – Innovation Team

The Innovations Team helps staff develop new inventions and bring them out into the wider world where the technology can solve real world challenges and impact people’s lives. This includes thinking about Intellectual Property and entrepreneurial activity such as creating new businesses. We are the connecting point between academia, industry and the wider world.

Central Laser Facility – Mechanical Engineering

Provides mechanical engineering support, by procuring, designing and manufacturing bespoke components and assemblies for experiments and for facility upgrades.

ISIS Neutron and Muon Source – Controls group – Software Applications

We are responsible for maintaining and developing the applications and interfaces that allows users and operators to interact with the control system to control the equipment that keeps the ISIS accelerator running 24/7.

ISIS Neutron and Muon Source – Crystallography group

The crystallography group operates a suite of beamlines at the ISIS spallation neutron source. We support users from all over the world to carry out research to determine the crystal structures of powder and single crystal samples. My own research is in the field of disordered crystals, characterising disorder but also developing methodologies related to this.

ISIS Neutron and Muon Source – Design Division (Mechanical Engineering)

Accelerators Design Group: The group is responsible for the design of all equipment relating to the ion source, LEBT/MEBT (Low/Medium Energy Beam Transport), Linear accelerator, Synchrotron, Extracted Proton Beam Lines & some Muon instrument upgrades since they are charged particles. The work includes magnets, vacuum vessels, precision alignment equipment & Radio Frequency Cavities. Our customer is usually scientists and we work with them to be able to practically deliver their requirements.

Work experience students will most likely use CAD to design equipment, and do calculations and simulations to ensure its suitability.

ISIS Neutron and Muon Source – Impact and Engagement Team

Our group controls the communications about ISIS internally and externally. Running the website, writing articles on the science we do and the staff we have, organising events for; schools, the public and researchers. We make resources such as videos and social media posts, as wells as posters and worksheets for our events, to spread the word of new science innovation at the ISIS facility and inspire a new generation of scientist.

ISIS Neutron and Muon Source – ISIS Synchrotron Group

The ISIS Synchrotron Group is responsible for the operation of the ISIS accelerators. We combine theory, computational models, and measurements from the ISIS synchrotron, in order to understand how our proton beam behaves, with a view to improving performance. We also perform research and development work in order to design the UK’s next neutron facility – ISIS-II.

ISIS Neutron and Muon Source – Low Energy Beams Group

The ISIS Low Energy Beams (LEB) Group runs the equipment at the start of the particle accelerator. As well as maintaining the kit running 24/7, we develop new technologies for higher performance and reliability. Our work involves a lot of time in the laboratory getting hands-on!

We are looking for a work experience student to help gather data using some high tech scanners on a new beamline. This may involve wiring, coding, plotting graphs and lots of other fun laboratory experiments.

ISIS Neutron and Muon Source – Molecular Spectroscopy Group (MSG)

MSG runs and develops four spectrometers at ISIS (IRIS, OSIRIS, TOSCA, VESUVIO) and assists on several others. A major focus within the group is the use of vibrational spectroscopy to characterise materials.

Particle Physics Department – ATLAS

Data analysis with Large Hadron Collider data, with particular interest in searches for additional Higgs bosons.

Particle Physics Department – Dark Matter

In our project called MIGDAL ( we are looking for a rare atomic effect which has never been observed experimentally in nuclear scattering. Its observation and measurement will help dark matter experiments to extend their sensitivity to detect dark matter particles called WIMPs almost two orderers of magnitude. A student would help with updating our website.

Scientific Computing Department – Distributed Computing Infrastructure Group (DCIG)

DCIG runs computing resources and tools for partner groups and organizations, including those within the UK and farther afield – such as the LHC computing grid and Square Kilometre Array. I specialize in authentication and authorization work, running identity and access management systems.

Technology – Detector System Software Group

The group develops software and computing systems to control and acquire data from scientific detectors, such as X-ray cameras, particle physics experiments and laser systems. Some of our systems are capable of capturing millions of images and terabytes of data per second. Depending on preference and experience, our work experience students could be writing and testing software to control state of the art electronics, or testing systems to process and store data as it is generated by the detectors.